A section of the path through the dunes. SUR
Artola Dunes: an oasis of nature amid the urban sprawl of the Costa del Sol

Artola Dunes: an oasis of nature amid the urban sprawl of the Costa del Sol

A network of wooden walkways allows you to explore the dunes without damaging the fragile ecosystem

Javier Almellones

Friday, 11 August 2023, 20:45


It is unusual to find dune systems on the Costa del Sol. And even more so with the characteristics of this beach in Cabopino. For this and other reasons, the enclave of the Artola Dunes is now protected as a natural monument of Andalucía, making this cove, which is just over a kilometre long, extra special.

This natural area, which covers some twenty hectares, is one of the geological marvels on the Mediterranean coast, as it preserves a set of mobile and fossil dunes that are inescapably reminiscent of those that can be enjoyed on the Atlantic coast of Andalucía.


  • Pathway There is a wooden walkway that allows you to walk over the top of the dunes.

  • Torre de los Ladrones: Atalaya, which is 14 metres tall, was used by the Arabs and probably has Roman origins.

  • Playa de Cabopino: A cove of fine, golden sand of which part is reserved as a nudist beach.

  • Marina Just a few metres away is Cabopino marina with restaurants and shops. .

  • Access From the A-7, after passing Calahonda (from Malaga), take the road signposted to Cabopino. There is a large flat area for parking.

You can take a leisurely walk over wooden walkways and bridges and enjoy the natural environment. The best time to do it is early in the morning or late in the afternoon in summer to avoid the hours when the sun is at its highest. However, a good part of the walk takes place under the canopy of a dense pine forest.

This circular path is well signposted to prevent hikers from getting lost. In fact, the marked path must be followed, to avoid damaging the valuable ecosystem of this unique geological formation.

Although it is considered circular, the itinerary offers up to three round trips along the route to allow visitors to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the coastline or even of the dune complex itself. In addition, those who wish to shorten the route also have the possibility of doing so through the different sections set up for this purpose.

On this circular route, you will be able to see up to three types of dune formations. On the frontline of the coast are those with a certain degree of mobility, which are easily distinguished by their characteristic ripples. Moving inland, there are the inactive mobile dunes, which are mostly covered with vegetation. Finally, there is a third strip further away from the sea, which are the fossil dunes, found under a pine forest.

On the route, we pass by one of Marbella's historical monuments, the Torre de los Ladrones, which was built in the Andalusí era to watch over this part of the Mediterranean coast. Its dimensions are striking, reaching a height of fourteen metres. Due to its historical and architectural importance, it has been listed and declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.

From a biological point of view, the Artola Dunes are home to unique species of flora such as maritime thistle, asphodel, dwarf lilies, spurges and sea daffodils, which can be seen from some of the paths through this enclave. The predominant species is the Aleppo pine, which provides shade at points along the route.

Close to the dune complex is Cabopino beach, popular with beachgoers for its fine golden sand. The small marina of the same name offers choices for leisure, shopping and a very cosmopolitan range of restaurants.

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